Made in Hackney

Published on 15/02/2023

A Hackney community food service supported by L&Q is sending out 1,000 free meals a week to help unprecedented amounts of locals struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

Made In Hackney, which was initially set up as a cookery school in Cazenove Road, has just three chefs that cook 500 meals every Tuesday and Thursday. These are then delivered cooked to people in need across the borough.

The charity has received £34,000 from L&Q’s Place Makers Fund, which supports local organisations and charities committed to changing lives and enhancing communities.

Fran Humber, Made in Hackney’s development manager, said they had seen an increase in people asking for the meal service since October when prices began to rise steeply.

She said:

“We had to close our waiting list, unfortunately, because we knew we wouldn’t be able to get to people in the next six months. We started a grocery pick-up bag service to help people who could come down and collect them, but the demand is so high at the moment that, sadly, we simply can’t help everyone who needs it.

“I’ve taken phone calls from people who burst into tears because it’s taken all of their strength to make the call. We feed many older people who have mobility issues, struggle to get out, and have lower incomes. We also help people with physical and mental health illnesses, people who are long-term unemployed and struggling to get back on their feet after covid, and people who are finding that money doesn’t stretch that far anymore.” 

Fran added:

“The difference that having food taken care of makes for people is fantastic. One young mum who hadn’t been eating to feed her kids said it helped her feel more of a person. Of course, free meals release a financial burden, but it also removes the mental burden of thinking about food.

“Having something to eat gives you the mental headspace to think about other things like getting your work back up and running or finding more time to get outside and feel a part of the community instead of worrying about food. We support a woman in a refuge recovering from PTSD, and you can’t underestimate the mental freedom that having some food support gives people.”

Made In Hackney started life ten years ago as a cookery school offering 200 classes a year, many free. They began delivering free meals during the coronavirus pandemic. For the last 18 months, they have operated their community meals service from The Queen of Hoxton, which has provided rent-free access to their kitchens. A team of volunteer kitchen assistants also help the service to keep going. They also continue offering free cookery classes at Liberty Hall in Clapham Common.

However, Fran said that the meal service remained their most significant project.

She said:

“It feels like this is going to be it for the foreseeable. It would be nice to support fewer people in crisis, but it’s hard to see that anything is going to change any time soon.”

Matt Corbett, Director of the L&Q Foundation, said:

“The increase in demand across the country for food banks and community food services is staggering and shows that the cost of living crisis is having a massive impact on vulnerable people.

“Our Place Makers fund was created to invest in projects that make positive, lasting change in the places where we manage homes. However, given the challenges currently facing our residents, we are increasingly investing in initiatives which help people get by day-to-day.

“Projects like Made In Hackney are doing vital work and, in some cases, are the only things keeping people afloat. We couldn’t be prouder to support them and the other initiatives stepping in to protect vulnerable people.”

You can learn more about Made in Hackney here.

You can learn more about the L&Q Place Makers fund or apply for funding by visiting our page.